We believe that your work has direct bearing on Russia's future regardless of whether you defend free elections, fight discrimination or are involved in some other activity. We want to continue cooperation so that you have contacts with colleagues from the U.S., help you make Russia an even better country to live in, Clinton told the attendees.
The meeting with the U.S. secretary of state was attended by around 15 public activists, including head of Soldiers' Mothers Ella Polyakova, leader of the St. Petersburg Human Rights Council Natalya Yevdokimova, and human rights activist and member of Russia Without Racism Dmitry Dubrovsky. The meeting was also attended by U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul.
I would like to get acquainted with as many participants as possible. I prefer to think that a healthy society is defined by three signs: an open and accountable government which is working for the good of its people, a dynamic and competitive private sector which provides jobs, and thirdly, a civil society. These are people like you who want to improve life for their fellow citizens, Clinton said.
Russians are talented people with innovative thinking who want to have a government that meets their hopes and aspirations, she said.
It is important to establish contact between the Russian and U.S. human rights organizations, Clinton added.
We would like this dialogue not to be a one-way street. We would like to hear your comments, proposals and criticism, she said.
After that the U.S. state secretary said she wanted to get to know close each attendee.
Subsequent communication continued without the press.
file photoThe meeting, held during Clinton's current visit to St. Petersburg, brought together about 15 activists.
One, Ella Polyakova, head of Soldiers' Mothers of St. Petersburg, told Interfax that Clinton walked over to each activist when the journalists left the meeting.
"We told her about our problems, our concerns. Someone even presented her with some books. I said that there is a huge problem in our country, a problem that is completely unimaginable in the U.S. - our military draft system, which is a modern form of slavery," Polyakova said.
"The way young men are treated here is savagery: it's violence, it's death, it's regular slavery. The format of our meeting was such that Hillary had very brief meetings with everyone, but it seemed to me that that problem impressed her," the activist said.
St. Petersburg attorney Dmitry Dinze, who was also present and the meeting, said on Twitter that he had told Clinton about "political persecutions of activists."
"About 12 people took part in the meeting. They spoke about the fields they work in. I spoke about political persecutions of activists," Dinze said. "I also spoke about the falsification of criminal cases. (Rights activist Dmitry) Dubrovsky and I have decided to do socio-political research on activists that have criminal charges framed up against them. Now all the activities will have socio-political explanations of why they are persecuted by the Russian authorities."
Dubrovsky, who is a member of the Russia without Racism group, was also present at the meeting. The other participants included Natalya Yevdokimova, leader of the St. Petersburg Human Rights Council, and Michael McFaul, U.S. ambassador to Russia.